Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Jackson Browne Lands in Brooklyn

by Richard Wallace

I don’t know about you but in some meaningful way for me, Brooklyn came of age last month when Jackson Browne appeared at the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series on July 21 at the Prospect Park bandshell.

I mean for a long time BAM has produced a terrific concert series for years in a very well thought-out, multicultural, downtown/alternative post-mainstream kind of way and they deserve a tremendous amount of credit.  Supposedly Bob Dylan played at Prospect Park last summer but I missed that show and I still don’t believe it happened. But last night Brooklyn had Jackson Browne all to itself and for this particular 70’s throwback, the fair borough landed.

Perhaps I speak for a certain population segment, the one that lived in Manhattan until they realized that Brooklyn, certainly from Prospect Park in to Brooklyn Heights was a doable place-to-live option.   And then they realized that it might actually be a better option that came with getting married, having children, home ownership, real estate appreciation/depreciation, etc.  In other words, getting settled. And that was all good but there remained a lingering feeling at times (okay, almost every night) that you weren’t living in Manhattan anymore and maybe, just maybe you were missing something.  That was before the silver Time the Conquerer tour bus pulled up on Prospect Park West Tuesday afternoon.

I did not buy an advance ticket to Jackson’s show.  One of the greatest American songwriters, one whose legacy includes a brotherhood with a large group of top shelf musicians as well as one of the most loyal fanbases ever, was playing down the street.  I guess I wasn’t going to believe it until I heard the music itself.  And of course it rained on and off all day so I wasn’t sure that the show was going to take place at all. I didn’t walk to the park until 8 PM, arrived about half way through the first set and approached the bandshell cautiously.  It turned out to be true.

Jackson Browne and his band were filling the humid night with some of the best songs of a lifetime.  The music hung in the air like a lyric from Late For the Sky just waiting to be held before being absorbed. Surprised to see general admission tickets still available, I bought one and entered the bandshell arena.

The band played songs from Jackson’s newest release,  Time the Conquerer, as well as a selection of songs in chronological order from the albums Saturate Before Using, Late for the Sky, The Pretender and Running on Empty.  The seemingly ageless 61 year-old Browne ended the first set with Take it Easy off the For Everyman record, a song he co-wrote with Glen Frey of The Eagles.

Jackson himself seemed to share my amazement as he stood on stage, acknowledging the crowd’s applause after the song, shaking his head and repeating with some wonder, “Brooklyn.”  The audience reveled amid what had become a midsummer night classic and for me, Brooklyn itself was complete.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review – The Rough Guide to the Music of Cuba

Pretty much every attempt to assemble a definitive anthology of music for a particularly country or style opens a can of worms. Credit the Rough Guide folks for at least taking a stab at this. Arguments over who ought to be on The Rough Guide to the Music of Cuba – or who ought not to be on it – could go on for days. “No Machito?!? Sacrilege!” But if you look at this simply as a sort of digital mixtape, it’s a fun dance album. As with the other cds in the series, they compilers start with a vintage sound and move forward, in this case to some of the first-rate (and impressively retro) bands coming out of Cuba in recent years. As has been the case with the Rough Guide cds lately, there’s also a bonus cd, in this case by the long-running, well-loved Sierra Maestra, who’ve been keeping the flame of vintage Cuban son music alive since 1976. As an introduction for the uninitiated, this is as good a place to start as any.

Los Estrellas De Arieto contribute Que Traigan El Quaguanco, a deliciously long oldschool-flavored son number by these 70s stars. Sierra Maestra’s El Son No Puede Fallar works an insistent groove for all it’s worth. For piano-based salsa, there’s the Afro Cuban All Stars’ Reconciliacion. The most innovative of all the cuts here is from the catalog of the late, legendary Buena Vista Social Club bassist Orlando Cachaito Lopez: Mis Dos Pequenas is an eerily slinky quaguanco instrumental, a lushly vivid mix of slide guitar, organ and violin.

The Afro Cuban Jazz Project’s Coge Este Tumbao introduces a bright, happy, more modern feel with call-and-response vocals. Percussion gets representation from the late Pancho Quinto’s hypnotic, shuffling La Gorra. Of the more recent material on the compilation, Mexico-based Azucar Negra probably represent the best of the current crop of veterans still active here. There’s also Sama Y El Expreso De Oriente’s big hit Guarachando from a couple of years ago; Maikel Blanco Y Su Salsa Mayor‘s tersely exuberant Que Tengo along with slick numbers by Los Van Van, Osdalgia and Elio Reve Jr. and a lone accession to reggaeton by Guantanamo natives Madera Limpia.

The Sierra Maestra cd is as richly, rustically evocative as ever, guitar, piano, horns and percussion interwoven into a hypnotic, hip-tugging net that shifts under your feet while it keeps you moving. Try standing still to this: impossible. At better record stores and online.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Brooklyn What – Gentrification Rock

The second release by New York’s most exciting band right now has all the fun, fury and intelligence of the Brooklyn What’s debut The Brooklyn What for Borough President (which remains at the top of our list for best album of 2009). Frontman Jamie Frey is possibly even more charismatically and ferociously amusing than ever here, and the band careens along behind him, flailing at everything in their way. When these guys have the three electric guitars going, live, the resulting pandemonium is completely out-of-control, giving their catchy punk songs a crazy, noisy, occasionally no-wave edge. This is a concept album of sorts, proceeds being donated to the esteemed grassroots organization Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn who continue to lead the community resistance to the well-documented Atlantic Yards luxury condo/basketball arena scam. Remember the days when Brooklyn musicians fought against the destruction of New York by suburban invasion rather than being part of it? The Brooklyn What do, even though most of them weren’t even born yet when New Jersey developers began tearing down perfectly good brick brownstones and replacing them with cheap plastic-and-sheetrock future crackhouses back in the 80s. This is a powerful contribution to that battle.

This ep has two versions of the title track, in the studio and live, one as intense as the other, the band’s caustic dismissal of the suburbanites who “wanna make the world one big mistake.” Another new recording, Movin to Philly has more of an over-the-edge anthemic feel than the countryish way they usually play it live. This one’s not an anti-trendoid diatribe but the anguished tale of a guy who’s been priced out of the city where he grew up and dreads every minute of the move and what lies ahead after that. “All my dreams are over there…take one last walk through Tompkins Square,” he muses. There’s also a characteristically snarling, defiant live version of the Kinks’ classic I’m Not Like Everybody Else and another original, I Want You on a Saturday Night, a self-explanatory, Ramones-ish punked out doo-wop tune. Get the album and contribute what you can if you can (DDDB’s funds are perennially in short supply, unsurprising since they’re not bankrolled by developers), and count this among the year’s best albums along with the Brooklyn What’s first one. The Brooklyn What play Trash Bar this Friday August 7 on what might be the best straight-up rock bill of the year with the Warm Hats, Palmyra Delran and Escarioka: the Brooklyn What hit the stage at 11.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 8/3/09

We do this every Tuesday. You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Every link here except for #1 will take you to each individual song.

1. The Ulrich/Ziegler Duo – Since Cincinnati

This is the alchemical guitar instrumental project of Steve Ulrich of Big Lazy plus Itamar Ziegler from Pink Noise. Unreleased – you’ll have to see this southwestern gothic masterpiece live.

2. Don Chambers & Goat – Open up the Gates

Dark garage rock with a banjo. They’re at Spikehill on 9/6.

3. Quixote – Hubris

Lo-fi noir cabaret with ornate flourishes from these edgy rockers. They’re at Trash on 8/11 at 8.

4. Mrs. Danvers – Wicked One

Slinky lesbian dance-rock with a trumpet, lots of fun. They’re at Trash on 8/11 at 10.

5. Bacchus King – Sub Prime

Math rock with a social awareness. They’re at Trash on 8/8 at 8.

6. The Warm Hats – Underground

Catchy swaying smartly defiant rock. At Trash on 8/7 at 8 withPalmyra Delran, the amazing Brooklyn What and the equally amazing Escarioka.

7. The Grendel Babies – Penelope

Eerie gothic art-rock with piano and violin. They’re at Fontana’s at 9 on 8/4.

8. The Fox Hunt – Suits Me Fine

Minor key original bluegrass – good stuff. At Caffe Vivaldi, 8 PM on 8/25, also at Arlene’s on 8/26 at 10 and at the National Underground on 8/27 at 9.

9. Glasspipe – Hands

Garage punk. They’re at Trash on 8/4.

10. Verismo – The Lorax

Dr. Seuss thrash metal. Priceless.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 8/4/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #358:

The Choir – It’s Cold Outside

Maybe the quintessential noir 60s pop song, set to a beautifully clanging 12-string guitar melody. The Stiv Bators cover of his fellow Clevelanders’  lone hit is good too. First issued on album on the original Nuggets anthology, mp3s are everywhere.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment